The story of Jonah is one of the most well-known stories of the Bible. Although it often gets relegated to a children’s story, it is a narrative that is important for everyone.
This verse is part of a prayer Jonah says from the belly of the big fish. Jonah is in the valley. He has come down from the mountains and he is in a difficult circumstance, to say the least. Jonah was (is) a prophet, close to God, communing with Him and now he is confined to a whale stomach.
But this verse is not about Jonah’s circumstance. Notice he says, “you have brought up my life”. It is easy for us to read our understanding of the story into this. But Jonah, as he is praying, is still inside the whale. He is still “in the pit”. His circumstances have not yet improved. And the prayer says “you have” not “you will”.
So, it does not seem Jonah is talking about the circumstances of being swallowed by a fish. What is he talking about?
Jonah is talking about perspective. The “bars” of the “earth” were a world-centered perspective. Jonah was trapped in thinking according to the way of the world rather than the way of God. It was a prison of perspective. Disobedience was his pit. False perspective is his true whale’s stomach.
The circumstances helped Jonah change his perspective. Just a few verses later, Jonah is spit out of the whale. But he has already arisen. His life was “brought up” by a transformed perspective.
We do not need our circumstances to be redeemed as much as we need our perspective to be redeemed.
“I descended to the base of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, Lord my God.”
– Jonah 2:6